The Student


To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student. - Soren Kierkegaard Before

There is this neighbor, a lady who keeps house for my master, who asked if I could teach her yoga.

I am reluctant about teaching. Aside from feeling uncertified, teaching would take me away from my own practice; because I would have to dumb down the asanas to accommodate a student's capacity.

So we had that first class and, with my reluctance and her over-enthusiasm, it was bound for disaster. I pushed her far, she pushed herself further. And for a week after that, she steered away from my yoga area because the mere sight of a yoga mat made her cringe with phantom pain, poor woman.


I told Sue about this, and she graciously offered me a yoga plan that was easy for my student to follow, and worse for me, because it was absofuckinglutely dumb for my level.

You know the argument that artists have about copyright? That if someone stole your work, you lose parts of your self in that art. That it no longer becomes yours. And you can no longer take profit out of that art. My reservations about teaching was more or less like that.

"Why should I teach if I it isn't going to give me more benefits as a yogi?" I wanted yoga to be mine. I do not care how others do it, I just want my yoga to be perfect. And I am jealous for the time and energy I have to offer the Gods of Yoga, so much that I would consider students as dead-weight to my practice.

But when I thought about it some more, I figured, who owns yoga and art? Are we not vessels and messengers for the generous fairies who inspired our bodies and minds with grace and agility and ideas? Aren't I accounted for the generosity that all my teachers have offered? Aren't I supposed to do their teachings some justice by passing it on?


This time I offered myself to her, my poor scared student. I swore that if she would let me teach her one more time -  with this fool proof easy plan that Sue gave me - she would enjoy the benefits of yoga.

Let's fast-forward a few weeks. My student came every morning since we tried Sue's program. Even when I did not feel like practicing. She is more aware of her body, she knows where her 80% is, so that she won't injure herself at 100%. She sleeps better. And her husband's happier.

In fact, it is me who reaps benefits from teaching. Just the sight of her in yoga costume shames me off my laziness onto the mat. My teaching-voice is more confident. And when we are in vinyasa, that flowing focus which allows no exchange of words, I know that I have her to thank. Teaching her did not just improve my asanas, it has made me a better yogi.

Did you ever hear that no money becomes less with charity ما نقص مال من صدقة? All the other yoga teachers seem to agree with that; that teaching is a gift to ourselves.

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